Carnival and Freedom of Expression

by Joshua Elahie – GrenCHAP

If I had to choose which time of the year is my favourite, hands down it would be carnival, especially J’ouvert. Given my deeply introverted personality, my social awkwardness, and the fact that I don’t drink anymore, which I needed to actually let go in a crowd and have fun, people might find this a bit odd. As much as I would like to manifest the spirit of a true ‘gettona’, I have the next best thing; I get to sit and look at my people experience bliss.

For me, J’ouvert is symbolic of a Grenada we should strive toward. Grenadians of every colour, class, and locality – country or town – become one when we on the road. Each of us goes a little crazy in doing things we wouldn’t normally do. Men who are pressured by society to hide behind a façade of artificial manliness can comfortably jump around in wigs and dresses, and women who are condemned by our society for having extra weight can have a good time with barely any clothes on. It’s so easy to be free and engage in whatever form of expression we please on J’ouvert morning because we know no one is judging us, but it shouldn’t have to end there.

Liberated expression of individuality shouldn’t only be a 2–day thing out of the 365 days of the year. Individual expression shouldn’t only be for the brave few who grow fed up of conformity and decide to challenge the status quo. We are all our own individual person – why not embrace that? Coincidentally, the first time I bleached the life out of my hair happened to be before carnival 2011. Upon conversation with my neighbour, I relayed to her my plans of growing out my hair with the lifeless blond on the ends, to which she responded with concern, “You go walk ’round so after carnival done?” I thought, “Why not?”

I’m not trying to promote social anarchy, but I want to encourage people to embrace the weird. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts that we all have the right to freedom of expression without interference. The reality is that we’re born in a society completely by chance and we’re expected to fit into the mould of social standards, set by people who have gone before us, but have you ever asked yourself; is this who I really am?

My plea is that on the other 363 days of the year that we aren’t engaged in the complete bliss and liberation of J’ouvert, let us become one with the eccentric and do something that feels right to our soul but may look insane to everyone else, and then we’ll realise that the only thing in this life that should matter to us, is that we’re happy. It’s okay if they think you’re strange for dancing; if they could hear the music, they’d do it too.

Love Without Fear

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